Meet Charlie Chan Hock Chye.
Now in his early 70s, Chan has been making comics in his native Singapore since 1954, when he was a boy of 16. As he looks back on his career over five decades, we see his stories unfold before us in a dazzling array of art styles and forms, their development mirroring the evolution in the political and social landscape of his homeland and of the comic book medium itself.
With The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye Sonny Liew has drawn together a myriad of genres to create a thoroughly ingenious and engaging work, where the line between truth and construct may sometimes be blurred, but where the story told is always enthralling, bringing us on a uniquely moving, funny, and thought-provoking journey through the life of an artist and the history of a nation.
“A stunning tour de force masterpiece of imagined and real history as Liew recreates the entire career of the titular cartoonist via art and photos to explore the history of both comics and Singapore.” —Publishers Weekly, “The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2016”
“An early candidate for the various best-of lists for 2016, this superlative achievement from Liew tells the story not only of Singaporean artist and comics creator Charlie Chan Hock Chye, but of Singapore itself. It hardly matters, of course, that the titular character is an invention of Liew’s, because his story is so real that some early reviewers assumed Liew’s protagonist had to be a real person. Chye’s story, from his youthful beginnings and early career as an artist to his later reminiscences, is fascinating in itself, but Liew’s inclusion of fabricated newspaper clippings, old sketches, and mixed media works—and even an occasional photo collage purporting to show us first-hand evidence of Charlie’s life—is riveting. As Chye’s life is revealed, so is the history of Singapore, a tumultuous sweep that is mirrored in the history of cartooning. Make no mistake: this multilayered book is a masterpiece.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Liew incorporates a dizzying range of styles and influences, from midcentury manga to Mad magazine, to trace the career of the fictional cartoonist. In the process, he also explores the myths and realities of postwar Singapore, casting a critical eye on policies that place adherence to the established order above personal expression. The combination of a powerful message, artistic virtuosity, and a fascinating framing device make for an un-put-downable read. This relentlessly engaging work stretches the boundaries of the graphic novel medium and is highly recommended for fans of political satire, Chris Ware, or Art Spiegelman.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“In this graphic novel, Liew (Shadow Hero, 2014, etc.) presents the life and work of an obscure comic-book creator in tandem with the turbulent modern history of Singapore, the land both call home. . . . Liew provides sharp commentary throughout, illustrating interviews as well as accompanying strips that decode Chan's layers of allegory. A fascinating look at a clever, uncompromising artist married to the times in which he lived.” —Kirkus Reviews
“A joy to read. Sonny Liew masterfully weaves the history of Singapore with the history of comics into something you've never experienced before.” —Gene Luen Yang, creator of American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints
“Unique and unprecedented . . . a masterpiece. . . . This book is a joyous, beautiful, million-faceted thing – a celebration of the comic book medium, a technical masterclass, a thrill ride, a Bildungsroman and an unflinching retrospective of the post-war-into-modern era. I love it, and I'm in awe of it.” —Mike Carey, author of Lucifer, The Unwritten and The Girl with All the Gifts
“Prepare to be swept away by a history of Singapore as you’ve never seen before. Sonny Liew delivers a brilliant and fiercely perceptive appraisal of this remarkable island-state.” —Paul Gravett, author of Comics Art and 1001 Comics You Must Read Before You Die
“A stunning tour de force masterpiece of imagined and real history as Liew recreates the entire career of the titular cartoonist via art and photos to explore the history of both comics and Singapore.” —Publishers Weekly, The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2016
“Part graphic novel, part art book, part narrative essay, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye by Malaysian-born, Eisner-Award-nominated comics artist and illustrator Sonny Liew is a look at Singapore unlike any other before. By reflecting on the life and work of a comic creator whose career spanned half a century, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye comments wryly on Singapore′s past and present while honoring comics as a storytelling medium.” —The Malay Mail
“One of the most visually arresting and thematically remarkable books published this year. . . . A landmark work in Singapore comics history.” —Akshita Nanda, The Straits Times
“One of [the best], if not the best, comic books in the past five years . . . [A] labor of love and a triumph of storytelling that transcends any medium. . . . A must-read.” —Amir Hafizi, Malaysian Reserve
"Riotously funny, heartbreakingly beautiful, fizzing with provocative ideas, The Art of Charlie Chan Hock Chye breathes life and intimacy into the multi-layered history of Malaysia and Singapore. Sonny Liew has produced a true masterpiece. " —Tash Aw, author of The Harmony Silk Factory and Five Star Billionaire